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Track and Field

Track and FieldOne of the most dominating women to ever compete in her sport, Tufts graduate Maren Seidler was a four-time Olympian. Tuscon, Arizona.

Medford/Somerville, Mass. [02.08.02] Maren Seidler began raising eyebrows when she was just 11 years old. An incredibly talented athlete, Seidler threw a shot put over 35 feet in her first U.S. Track and Field meet. During the career that followed, she shattered sporting records and stereotypes about female athletes alike.

"Ms. Seidler is one of a new self-confident, unapologetic breed who refuse to play by the old rules for female athletes," reported The Boston Globe in a 1973 profile of the then-Tufts senior. "They won't use the back door of the gym anymore. They do not suffer foolish questions or stomach-turning cliches gladly."

Already a two-time Olympian by 1973, Seidler had burst into the track and field world at a time when female athletes were still fighting for recognition and respect.

"You really have to have a pretty strong self image," Seidler told the Boston Herald American in the early 1970s. "You can't have a weak psyche and be a woman in sports."

Seidler, who the Globe described in 1973 as "one of the best women shot-putters in the United States" -- had much more than a strong self image -- she had a tremendously strong arm.

"[The Tufts graduate] won 23 national titles, indoors and outdoors, in the women's shot put from 1967-80 and was a member of Olympic teams in 1968, 1972, 1976 and 1980," reported the Associated Press. "She set American records in the shot put 16 times and was the first American to break 60 feet."

She also competed in three Pan American Games -- 1967, 1975 and 1979 -- winning a silver medal in 1979.

In 2000, Seidler was inducted into the U.S. Track and Field Hall of Fame.

"It has an enormous amount of meaning," she told the San Francisco Chronicle about her selection. "I got a little weepy."

Even from the age of 11, people knew Seidler was going to make a mark on the sport.

In an interview with the New York Times, Patricia Rico -- president of USA Track and Field -- recalled Seidler's first competition at a meet in Yonkers, New York.

"She probably shouldn't have been there because she was too young," Rico said of the 11-year-old Seidler. "But this 6-foot giant appeared with her parents and she wanted to compete. She wasn't registered, but no one knew the difference. We put her in the shot-put competition and she threw maybe 35 feet."

While the distance wasn't enough to win that day, there were plenty of victories in Seidler's future. Just two years later, at the age of 13, she broke her first national record.

To this day, Seidler still holds the record for the longest streak for outdoor shot-put championships, with nine consecutive titles. Only two other athletes have longer streaks in any track and field event.

Photos courtesy of Digital Collections and Archives, Tufts University

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